Want a Beer… Comrade?

Posted: March 13, 2014 by writingsprint in Fun Stuff, Writing
Tags: , , , , ,

car chaseThis morning I was thinking about how I need to work on my plot development. I’m working on details, and I’m shaking off the rust with getting inside characters’ heads and emotions. Where I still struggle, really struggle, is plot development. I can go from point A to point B with the best of them, but weaving together a sequence of events that’s short, sweet, and makes good fictional sense is hard for me. A to B to C is reality. A problem B crisis C resolution D aftermath E is a story. And it all has to be driven by the deepest desires of a character, preferably with some growth or change along the way.

I remembered when one of my classmates back in college had trouble coming up with an ending for his story. In reality, he didn’t really have a story at that point. He had five quirky characters stuck in a car driving through the Carolinas on their way to Spring Break. He eventually abandoned that story and went with another one. Hmm. I wonder what he could have done with that idea…

Teacher: Okay. They’re going to Spring Break. So what’s their problem?

Student: They can’t get to Spring Break.

Teacher: Right. Turn up the volume. Why? It can’t be a problem that’s easy to solve.

Student: Their car breaks down.

Teacher: Not bad. What about rentals?

Student: It happens at night. They don’t want to wait until morning.

Teacher: They’re assholes! I love it! Then what?

Student: They steal a car!

Teacher: (claps his hands) Perfect! All right. So now you’ve got them off and running. Give them a real problem. Something that makes them, and the audience, think that they’ll never make it to Florida.

Student: The car they stole belongs to a CIA agent. It has secrets in the trunk.

Teacher: (laughing) Glorious! Oh my God! If you write this, I’m giving you an A. Now solve the problem.

Student: They drop off the secrets in Florida themselves. The story ends with them laying on the beach in Fort Lauderdale. A girl walks up to the driver and says, “Want a beer… comrade?”

I may have to write this one.

  1. A.D. Everard says:

    LOL. Brilliant! 😀


    • There’s a great scene in the book “Sphere” by Michael Crichton where the main character, a psychiatrist, is stuck in an impossible situation. He remembers one of his professors saying, “Show me a stubborn patient, and I’ll show you a stubborn therapist. Wear a clown suit. Stand on your head. Point a gun at your patient. Do something.” That’s how I feel about coming up with a plot.

      This isn’t to say I can always come up with them — my clone story dried up, and so did my Farscape one — but I use the phrase “let’s turn up the volume” a lot when I’m facing the drawing board. You have to know your character, then turn what they want on its head and force them to act.


      • A.D. Everard says:

        Yes, I know what you mean. Generally I’ve had plots come my way and I’ve run with them, but to actually face a blank canvas and decide to come up with a plot… I agree, that’s a lot harder. For me, plot and character development seem to go hand-in-hand. The plot influences how the character changes and the character influences how the plot goes.


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